People Places
Richard Rogers


Richard Rogers

©Monica Pidgeon

I see myself as part of the Modern movement, a movement which is going through a period of crisis, of questioning, a period which is trying to re-evaluate its role, and which is no longer a revolution but, rather, one which is trying to find a balance recognising the value of the past and the fact that the present and future are built on the past. A critical area is the city and the erosion of the city as a people's place. The only reason for a city is that people meet there; all the actual activities could go on outside cities in new towns, in out—of—city universities and so on. But as a meeting—place, that is what is unique to the city. Traffic and lack of consider— ation or possibly the demand of a materialistic society have put the city in this critical position.


"London As It Could Be" Project

©Richard Rogers Partnership

The first project that I will talk about is one which we did for a major exhibition, which we called 'London as it could be: a study on two axes'. The axis which we took was one which could be called North—South going from Leicester Square and Piccadilly to Trafalgar Square, down Northumberland Avenue and across the Thames to Waterloo Station, picking up what one might call the major squares or spaces in the West End of London and linking the much richer, institutionally richer, North bank with the poorer South bank, economically poorer. The other axis was between Vauxhall Bridge on the Thames, linking it up all the way along the Embankment up to Blackfriars Bridge and the City of London. One of the problems that London has is that all the so—called meeting places of London - Marble Arch, Hyde Park Corner, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Trar falgar Square and so on — are in fact not meeting places, they are actually traffic junctions or roundabouts. Trafalgar Square is probably the biggest one of all, it is totally inaccessible, and even if you dared to get onto this great space which was once the heart of an empire, you have nothing to do but feed the pigeons. So one could start there and say that it is important for the buildings around the Square to actually link onto it. And so we changed the traffic round Trafalgar Square so that the great linear building along its North side, the National Gallery, actually became part of the Square itself. And we then linked both back and for— wards from that, back towards Leicester Square with a small pedestrian route, and Piccadilly Circus, and then forward towards the river. We created a series of traffic—free zones by studying the traffic and we recommended that Charing Cross Station should be removed from the heart of the North embankment to the South embankment, to Waterloo Station which is just the other side. So that one would have a free development area on one corner of Trafalgar Square and we would remove what is a hideous bridge, Hungerford Bridge, and we suggested instead a pedestrian bridge linking the North and South ‘nd to take people who would get off at Waterloo (which would then become Waterloo an Charing Cross combined) we sugges— ted a shuttle train which is suspended underneath the bridge.

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